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November 4, 2013 — The University of Wyoming has many of the pieces in place to produce championship-caliber football and men’s basketball teams, but some changes are needed to reach and persist at that level, a consulting firm has concluded.
Collegiate Sports Associates (CSA) has completed its review of UW’s football and men’s basketball programs. The study was done at the request of UW President Bob Sternberg with the support of Athletics Director Tom Burman, who will spearhead UW’s efforts to implement the report’s suggestions. The president received the final report Sunday. It is available in its entirety here.
“We appreciate the work done by CSA and believe the report contains some valuable suggestions on how to make our programs even stronger,” Sternberg says. “We will now take a thorough look at those suggestions and determine those we will implement immediately, as well as those that may take more time to put into place.”
The CSA report concludes that “this is a critical moment in time for the Wyoming athletics program.”
“Changes in the national landscape of NCAA Division I have added to the existing and unique challenges Wyoming faces competing at this level,” the report says. “However, the arrival of a new President with high expectations for athletics presents new opportunities to shift to ‘a culture of progress.’”
The report states that sustained success of UW’s football and men’s basketball programs “will have a wide-reaching impact on the (Athletics) Department, the University and the entire State. Athletics must be positioned as an integral and visible part of the University’s strategic plan. This must be an ‘all in’ effort from people on campus and throughout the State who care about UW.”
CSA identified a number of strengths regarding the UW Athletics Department, including:
--The fact that UW is the only NCAA Division I program in the state. “Wyomingites love their Cowboys and exhibit an abiding, infectious passion for the University that is embraced throughout the State. Competitively successful football and men’s basketball programs can capture the headlines as well as the hearts of the people of the State.”
--Support from Sternberg, the UW Board of Trustees and others for strongly competitive programs.
--The fact that Burman, Head Football Coach Dave Christensen, and Head Basketball Coach Larry Shyatt “are highly competitive veterans that know and understand their respective jobs, have the experience and expertise to carry them out, and are passionate about their programs and the University of Wyoming.”
--The fact that the Athletics Department has a strong master plan in place to continually improve athletics facilities.
Among the challenges identified by the consulting firm are:
--The lack of a strategic plan for UW athletics that is integrated into the university’s strategic planning process.
--Academic policies that make it difficult for student-athletes to transfer credits between majors and from community colleges.
--Laramie’s relative geographic isolation, resulting in high travel costs, difficult travel logistics and scheduling issues that affect student-athlete recruitment, staff recruitment and retention, alumni support, ticket sales and game attendance.
--The need for additional revenue to resolve those issues and keep pace with other institutions in the Mountain West Conference and the nation. The report notes that while UW athletics spending increased by 22 percent from 2005 to 2011, the average increase for schools in the MWC was 51 percent.
CSA calls for a “culture change” to create the expectation of conference championships at UW.
“It will take a team effort and sense of urgency from the key leaders on campus to achieve the high levels of performance envisioned by the President. Broad-based understanding of the role of athletics across all areas of the University is vitally important. Alumni and friends will have to do their part as well,” the report says. “It is critical that the level of expectations and accountability within the Department increases as support from the outside increases. Staff must embrace the challenge of thinking differently and working with a feverish intensity to position UW football and men’s basketball for future conference championships.”
If the changes are implemented, CSA believes “that the University of Wyoming is well-positioned to raise its profile among its Division I peers,” the report concludes.